As intellectual property plays such a vital role in the key activities of many businesses, it is important not only that it is properly protected and used but also that third party rights are not infringed. This is particularly important in the Isle of Man which, as a leading financial and commercial jurisdiction, provides a tax efficient environment in which to hold and exploit intellectual rights.

Manx law largely follows English and European law in relation both to registrable rights such as patents, registered trade marks, and registered designs and also unregistered rights such as copyright (including software), unregistered trade and service marks, unregistered designs, confidential information and trade secrets, database rights and domain names..

Ownership of an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) arises when it is created or when it is acquired by assignment, and the right to use IPRs is usually regulated by a licence agreement.

In most cases where an IPR is developed by an employee it will belong to his employer. However, in businesses where contract personnel are engaged this position may not apply and the ownership of rights, unless specifically addressed, may be uncertain.

It is increasingly important for businesses to identify and understand the IPRs which may be relevant to its activities and those of their clients.

Types of IP Protection

The type of protection you can get depends on what you've created.

1. Automatic Protection

Copyright and database rights: Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings and computer programs

Design right: Shapes of manufactured objects.

These rights arise automatically and the duration of copyright depends on the subject matter.

2. Protection you have to apply for

Patents: Inventions and products, eg machines and machine parts, tools, medicines.

Registered designs: Appearance of a product including, shape, packaging, patterns, colours, decoration.

Trade marks: Product names, logos, jingles.

These types of IP can be expensive and may take time depending on complexity. However, their importance should not be overlooked.

IP law in the Isle of Man

Recently there has been considerable updating of Manx IP law. However, where business is conducted in countries other than the Isle of Man, rights may need to be separately registered in those countries or licences may need to be negotiated.

The Isle of Man offers intellectual property protection rights in line with those in the United Kingdom and other countries of the European Union and it is thought this position is unlikely to change as a result of Brexit.

The Isle of Man is also, through the UK, party to the key international intellectual property treaties such as the Berne, Paris and Rome Conventions, the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol. Businesses can therefore be assured that intellectual property rights in the Isle of Man are modern, up to date and adhere to international standards.

The above framework provides an Intellectual Property regime in the Island which is efficient and cost effective, and of a scope more than comparable with competing jurisdictions, with the result that it is possible to manage and develop IPRs in the Island without in any way compromising their protection.

The Island has a sophisticated financial services infrastructure which is experienced in establishing and administering a variety of structures and special purpose vehicles to enable IPR to be held and exploited to achieve the most financially efficient outcome.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.